By Suranimala Umagiliya –
The current government was shaped and built on a well planned marketing strategy well before the last Presidential election was called. Standing at the apex of this marketing strategy was the promise of appointing persons of integrity and professionalism to head State Owned Enterprises and other positions of immense importance. The initial appointments were commendable only to be followed by “jobs for the boys”. The euphoria that was created has disappeared. Some of the appointments have already come under severe criticism. Relatives, in-law’s, outlaws, et al have joined the band wagon.
Diplomatic appointments are considered to be plum positions as pay back for services rendered at election time. There of course have been exceptions to this rule when such political appointees have excelled and even surpassed expectations by conducting affairs in an exceptional manner to position Sri Lanka well above the diplomatic pecking order vis a vis larger nations.
Now comes the revelation that Lakshman Hulugalle, is being appointed as Consul General to Sydney, Australia. Lakshman Hulugalle is no stranger to controversy and has had a questionable past. ( Click here to read)
MN Bandara, a senior career Diplomat is the existing Consul General in Sydney, Australia. He has over 20 years experience and has served in many overseas postings prior to his current billet. Diplomat Bandara has been in his post as Consul General for barely four months and is being downgraded to the position of Deputy Consul General to accommodate soon to be appointed Lakshman Hulugalle.
Sri Lanka Foreign Relations Ministry operates many Consulates across numerous cities in the globe, but would be making history by crafting a position of Deputy Consul General for the first time to accommodate a political appointee. And that too in someone such as Lakshman Hulugalle. It must be noted that Hulugalle had in a prior government under Mahinda Rajapaksa done a short stint in Canberra, Australia as Deputy High Commissioner. Australia is an important ally of Sri Lanka and needs to be respected by appointing persons of high calibre to represent Sri Lanka.
A diplomat is the face of his Nation in another country and is the principal agent in his or her host country. A person with a questionable past cannot hide his antecedents with the current technology wherein facts and figures are available with click. It’s free too.
The current governments lofty proclamations of appointing professionals have gone with the wind and more is expected once the General Election is done and dusted. Sri Lankan’s at home and overseas were searching for a messiah to turn the downward spiraling tide and built their hopes and aspirations on the shoulders of Gotabaya Rajapaksa when they believed in his pre – election pitch thereby appointing him with an overwhelming mandate to be the CEO of Sri Lanka for the coming five years. This appears to be a misplaced judgement.
The more Sri Lankan’s dream, the more remains the same.